Honduras and EU agree deal to promote legal timber trade
The EU and Honduras have concluded negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). The agreement will help improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products. The VPA is the first between the EU and any country in the Americas.
Stefano Manservisi, the European Commission’s Director-General for International Cooperation and Development and Arnaldo Bueso Hernández, Honduran Minister-Director of the National Institute of Forest Conservation and Development, Protected Areas and Fauna initialled the text of VPA on 14 June in Tegucigalpa, marking the formal end of the negotiations.
Before the agreement can enter into force, the EU and Honduras must complete their internal procedures for signing and ratifying the VPA. To implement the agreement, Honduras will develop systems and procedures to verify that all timber and timber products for export and domestic markets comply with relevant laws and regulations. The VPA also provides for the establishment of complaints mechanisms and independent audits, as well as commitments to transparency in the forest sector.
Of the 15 countries now negotiating or implementing a VPA with the EU, Honduras is the only one to have recognised indigenous peoples as a distinct group alongside government, civil society and private sector representatives in the process to shape the agreement’s content. As a result, the agreement directly addresses issues affecting indigenous peoples.
The EU and Honduras will jointly oversee implementation of the agreement. This substantial task will require the continued commitment and engagement of all stakeholders. Once the VPA is fully implemented, Honduran shipments of timber products to the EU will have to be accompanied by a FLEGT licence, demonstrating their legality. FLEGT-licensed products automatically meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation, which prohibits the placing of illegal timber on the EU market.
Through the agreement, Honduras expects to modernise its forestry sector, improve business competitiveness and address issues such as land tenure, while protecting the rights of indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities.